PFAS contamination has been a growing concern for Michigan residents, as more locations across the State have tested positive for the known carcinogen. Two more locations have made headlines in recent days, as Richland Township and Battle Creek are both dealing with high levels of PFAS in residential drinking wells.
Testing conducted by local officials at the former Production Plated Plastics site near 34th Street and D Avenue in May confirmed PFOS levels of 8,000 parts-per-trillion (PPT), well above the recommended limits. Additional testing in June found 9,640 PPT.
Nearby residential drinking wells were tested shortly after, revealing levels several times above the EPA health advisory. An open house coordinated by the MDEQ and the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services was held on July 18, but frustrated residents learned that there was little information available at this early stage in the water testing.
The MDEQ announced it was expanding the testing boundaries to determine if the PFAS contamination posed a greater risk to the surrounding area, and it provided residents in the study area with bottled water.
Production Plated Plastics, believed to be the source of the PFAS, had a long history of environmental contamination. In 1977 the company was sued by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources after chromium contamination was discovered in nearby groundwater.
A federal judge ordered PPP to pay $1.5 million in fines in 1992, ruling that the company purposely thwarted hazardous waste laws. Production Plated Plastics ultimately filed for bankruptcy, and the State retained ownership of the site due to the environmental issues surrounding it.
Battle Creek is also dealing with its own PFAS contamination. The MDEQ began testing 61 drinking water wells within a 1-mile radius of the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base in April. Less than half of the tests have been completed, and two wells near the base have tested positive for high levels of the contaminant. Five additional wells not currently used for drinking water tested at concentrations above 70 PPT, and 11 active drinking water wells have tested positive.
Military bases and airports across the country have come under scrutiny as hotbeds of possible PFAS contamination. Fire suppression chemicals used at these sites have been found to contain high levels of PFAS, which can seep into the ground and contaminate nearby water tables.
Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a toxic chemical once used in the leather waterproofing agent Scotchgard. PFAS were banned from use in the early 2000s, due to the health risks it presents to humans and animals. PFAS exposure has been linked to numerous complications, such as higher rates of kidney and testicular cancer, immune system suppression, fibromyalgia, and thyroid problems.